Bhubaneswar, May 6: Hurdles for the eight-million-tonne-per-annum Posco steel project, the country’s biggest foreign direct investment, are slowly being removed one after another as the state government has agreed to provide water linkage to it from the Mahanadi river system.
In April, the state government had made it clear to the Centre that it had no objection to Khandadhar iron ore mines in Sundargarh being allotted to the South Korean steel giant for its proposed plant near Paradip in Jagatsinghpur district.
State water resources secretary Suresh Mohapatra today said: “No industries, particularly steel and power, can be set up without proper water linkage. We have decided to provide water to the Posco project from the Mahanadi river system.”
Confirming the development, Jagatsinghpur collector Satya Kumar Mallick said: “In every three years, the state government will have to renew the clause related to linkage of water supply to the Posco project.”
As there was a continued protest from various organisations such as Mahanadi Bachao Andolan and Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan on the issue of providing water from the Mahanadi river, there was a speculation that the government would not agree this time for sourcing water from the river for the project which would require 125 cusecs of water per day.
Senior BJP leader and Mahandi Bachao Andolan chief Bijoy Mohapatra said: “This is a conspiracy against the farmers of Jagatsinghpur, Kendrapara and Cuttack. The government may allow the company to draw water, but we will not allow them to take water from Mahanadi.”
An official of the water resources department said there was nothing to worry about sourcing water from Mahanadi river for the Posco project.
“On an average, about 4,000 to 5,000 cusecs of water flows down to the Bay of Bengal from the Mahanadi river system daily through Jobra barrage. But, Posco needs only 125 cusec water,” said water resource secretary Mohapatra.
Posco wants to draw water from the Mahanadi river and its tributary Hansua river.
While supply of water from Mahanadi will be helpful to run its proposed blast furnace and captive power plant round the year, the water from Hansua will be primarily used for construction activities.
“In May and June, Hansua river remains almost dry. In November and December, the water level goes down. So, it will not be possible for the Posco authorities to take the entire quantity of water from the Hansua river,” said another official.
The water resource secretary, however, said Posco was yet to submit the proposal identifying the points from which it would like to draw water.
“The state government has no objection to the company getting water from Jobra barrage itself,” said an official.
The Indian Oil Corporation Limited has already been allowed to take water from Jobra for its oil refinery project. The corporation has already laid the pipeline between Jobra and Paradip. “The company needs nearly 100 cusecs of water. A trial supply of water from Jobra through the pipe line has already been done successfully,” said a source in the water resource department.
Besides Posco and IOC, other industries in Paradip that are taking water from Mahanadi river system are Paradip Port, Indian Farmers’ Fertilisers’ Co-Operative Limited and Paradip Phosphate Limited.